by Bedford Residents Association

Since when does the state have the constitutional right to manage housing in the towns?

CNHT recently sent out a press release pointing out the flaws in the Governor’s new bi-partisan plan to increase high-density, low-income apartment complexes in every town in NH. We at BRA think it overrides local control with unconstitutional mandates while giving special tax favors to developers, potentially placing the burden on the single family homeowners.

It also has the potential to radically change the demographics of a given area with regard to voting.

According to the plan and our objections:

– Low income housing will be mandatory in order to mitigate a non-existent low-income housing ‘shortage’. (The state only needs to lower taxes on landlords who then can lower rents)

– Training of local zoning and planning boards in ‘new urbanism’ which will be mandatory, will be managed by unelected regional boards, special interest groups, and private foundations. (These entities have NO accountability to the residents and often come from outside the state and the country.)

– Projects that come before the planning boards, if not rejected in 65 days, will automatically be approved even if they don’t comply with the town’s current zoning laws. (Sometimes it takes a year to iron out environmental, abutter, and other concerns from the time a concept is presented until final approval. This mandate is restrictive and would give boards no choice but to reject most projects, thus throwing the decision to the state’s “House Appeals Board”.)

– And last but not least, developers will get more perks in the form of tax benefits for projects consisting of MORE high-density construction. (In many towns, new zoning laws have been adopted for the purpose of allowing, but LIMITING such projects due to the fact that a sudden increase in the population would place an unexpected burden on public services such as fire, police, EMT, waste disposal, etc. they would not have the resources to handle. As with commuter rail, along with high-density comes more crime.)

Like the Housing Appeals Board that was secreted into the budget, it’s a complete override of local town meeting votes and board decisions. Legislators should support Senator Birdsell’s bill to repeal the HAB, and the two bills that would enable the Governor’s plan.

Announcement of The Plan

Here are the two LSRs (no bill numbers yet) that contain the provisions mentioned above:

Housing Bill – Rep. Alexander

Housing Bill – Rep. Griffiths

Here are the recommendations of the Plan, in a document provided by the Governor:
Recommendations of Housing Plan

Among the documents distributed by the Governor was a colorful poster which cites the program as “A WIN FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE MUNICIPALITIES | WORKFORCE | DEVELOPERS” when it really is only a win for DEVELOPERS.

The Bedford Residents Association was formed in August of 2018 in order to educate, inform, and activate the local voters for the upcoming 2019 town meeting. In March of 2019 they succeeded in changing the zoning laws by win/defeat of 4 amendments, got two favorable candidates elected, one each to the Town Council and School Board. They are currently looking for two more candidates for each of these positions for the March 2020 town meeting. Please visit their website for more information on SB 241 Commuter Rail, SB 306 Housing Appeals Board, and the Governor’s New Plan.